Samburg housing rehabilitation project moves forward

Samburg housing rehabilitation project moves forward

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Samburg is moving forward on a couple of major projects this spring — a $500,000 housing rehabilitation project and an ambitious plan to start a city-operated sewer system.
The city has been awarded a Community Development Block Grant for housing and is continuing work on identifying those who are eligible for housing assistance. A meeting Monday at Samburg City Hall was attended by 31 residents. They were briefed on the grant and how it can be used to remodel existing homes or be used to build new homes in town.
By the end of the meeting, 16 people had picked up grant applications. They have until June 17 to fill out and return the applications to Samburg City Hall. The applications will then be scored and city officials are hoping work will begin on some of the houses in town by August.
City officials were pleased with the turnout at Monday’s grant meeting.
Immediately following the grant meeting, the Samburg mayor and board of aldermen met in a called session to discuss a proposal by board member Eddie Fickle to move forward with the establishment of a city-owned sewer system. Currently, the city is being served by the Reelfoot Lake Regional Utility & Planning District in Tiptonville.
Complaints about that utility district’s recent rate hikes and other concerns have prompted the Samburg board to look into starting its own utility district. The process has not gone smoothly, but Monday night the board voted 3-0 to proceed with applying for a state permit.
Voting to apply for the state permit were board members Eddie Fickle, Juni Fickle and Shelly Arnett. Board member Joe Denton passed on the vote, citing concerns about a lack of information related to the cost to operate such a system.
“I’m in favor, but with extreme caution,” Mrs. Arnett said just before the vote was taken.
Eddie Fickle said he would work with Samburg city recorder Mary Swain on filling out the application and would bring it back before the board before it’s filed with the state. The application will contain demographic information about the city, including specific information about households that would be served by the sewer system.
Even with the state application, Eddie Fickle said there is no guarantee the state will approve it.
He said his motivation behind trying to establish a city-owned utility system is recent rate hikes by the Reelfoot utility district.
“I was getting complaints,” he told the board Monday night.
He also used the phrase “it doesn’t make sense” several times to describe the utility rate hikes, which he said were a burden to Samburg residents.
“They can’t justify what they’re doing on the rate structure,” he said.
The city’s application for a state permit to start a utility district is the first step in the process, according to Eddie Fickle. He said the second step would be to pass a resolution establishing a sewer board. But that move would only be possible if the state approves the city’s permit application.
Eddie Fickle also referred to last week’s article in The Messenger which pointed out the lack of public outcry about the Reelfoot utility district’s rate hikes. A total of six city residents attended Monday night’s called meeting in protest of the rate hikes.
The called meeting lasted 15 minutes.

Published in The Messenger 5.14.13

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